15

Too bad some people didn't profit of the weather to stay warm at home in bed with a good cup of cacao. Maybe the individual in the shadow would have agreed if he had his words to say, but as it is, he hasn't. It was not a good idea to contrary his master.

He shuddered, not as much from the heavy shower than thinking about Him. The drenched man lowered again his curbed carcass frightened he may inadvertly summon his worst and very alive nightmare. He glanced around him with caution, his pointed nose escaping from under his saturated hat, making him look like a drowned rat.

Nothing new. Everybody was in, except the couple at the back door. He couldn't discern who they were from his point of view but he envied them their closeness. He sighed. There was no point in waiting longer and he was freezing.

He knew he was considered like a shabby by Malfoy and his friends, but he had survived at the side of his master longer than any of them. His master. He shuddered again. His job was done here, and making the Dark Lord wait for his presence was not a good move.

He needed to go home now. He turned from the loving scene to depart and found himself almost nose to nose with a wand. Squealing loudly he changed in his animagus form. Swearing at the rain for blocking his vision and making him miss his target, Mad Eye went in hunt but his feet stuck in the mud slowed him considerably.

Meanwhile Hermione and Minerva jumped apart at the feel of a magical discharge. Seeing what was happening, the transfiguration mistress didn't lost an instant and changed in her cat form and hurried up after the frantic rat.

The latter searched frenetically to lost his pursuer but the terrain was not propitious and he didn't have enough time. She was gaining on him. Just at the moment her sharp claws would have closed on her prey, he rushed recklessly in the traffic.

Somehow he survived miraculously. Minerva almost hadn't his luck. Hermione, who had followed, was her guardian angel and rescued her. She was wet and breathing heavily, her clothing sticking on her, but what retained Minerva attention was her regard.

It was abnormally bright, both furious and terrified. And this two emotions seemed solely directed on her. She was in trouble.

Tonks, Mad-Eye and Arthur Weasley went after the trail left by Wormtail' s flee. Meanwhile, the rest of the group made their excuse to the friends and relatives, of the Grangers and hurried up at home.

Hermione and Minerva were drenched. Molly turned around them like a mother hen. Tired by it and their ordeal, they left to change. The rest of the group invaded the kitchen where hot cocoa and toasts were served.

Minerva felt uneasy and worried. Hermione didn't loosen her teeth since the run after Wormtail. It could simply mean she was shaken and was thinking about it, but Minerva doubted it. She had come to read her young friend easily, in the few time they passed together. And right now, what she read, was that she was angry with her for something.

The silent treatment was unnerving. Minerva hadn't had to support it since a long time. Moreover, it was not the usual conduct of Hermione when she was upset. She should yell and storm, telling the world what was wrong and why.

Minerva didn't know how to broach the subject. The younger woman was standing, back straight, her brisk movements showing her barely controlled anger. She was obviously preparing to take a bath. It would surely relax her.

So should Minerva try to bring up what was wrong now or after it? Now would be surely better than latter. It was often the case. Besides her pupil wouldn't lose the benefit of her bath like that…

She approached prudently to the raging woman and tried to still her. But her embrace was rejected and she felt hurt. Overlooking her upset heart, she tried again to reach her friend, despites the walls edified between them.

"Hermione, did I do something wrong? Please answer me!" Minerva hated the tremble in her voice and anything that could show her weakness. But she needed an answer. She was so confused. It pained her to feel the chasm between them.

She had the habit to maintain a certain aloofness with her students. It shouldn't felt as if something irreplaceable was missing. They had just become friends. Returning to some detachment in dealing with her pupil should be easy. But it wasn't.

Hermione heard the pain and the confusion in her beloved mentor's voice, but couldn't shake her own troubles. She knew she was acting irrationally. But something had snapped in her. First when she saw Minerva change in her cat form and run away, she had felt absurdly abandoned. And when this same cat had been almost hit by a car, the emotion had somehow amplified, mixing with it her terror and guilt as the idea of losing her friend.

It was silly, but the worst was she would have resented Minerva for leaving her. She was resenting her for it now. And she couldn't explain it, couldn't voice her feelings. She would melt in tears. She didn't want to. She cried enough as it is this past week.

"Hermione?"

The pain and the love included in this single word was finally enough to free the younger woman from her paralyzing thoughts. She flung herself at the warm and strong body of her mentor. She snatched this very alive body, making sure it was there, helping her to calm herself and express her agony. "Don't leave me ever again! Please… please…"

Minerva was puzzled by it for a moment, but neverless returned heartedly the crushing embrace, savoring it. She caressed Hermione back and kissed her front and hair, talked nonsense in a soothing voice. "Shh…I promise. I'm here. Always. "